According to recent surveys only 40-50% of adult Americans have an estate plan, and that is in spite of the fact that 75% think at least having a will is important. Reconciling these statistics is not easy to do, but the answer lies primarily in normal human behavior and common misperceptions of estate planning.
Here are the top five reasons that people don’t have an estate plan:
This is the number one reason, and not too surprising. Making an estate plan is easy to put off (even if you think it is a good idea). Everyone has busy lives and the prospect of assembling all the information and making an appointment with an attorney often goes to the bottom of the priority list. The problem is that no one knows when an unexpected illness or accident will occur, and by then it may be too late.
The Belief that Estate Planning is Only for the Wealthy
It is a common belief that estate planning is only for wealthy families. However, anyone with a home, minor children, or even a modest savings needs an estate plan. Estate planning is necessary to make sure heath care choices are known, assets are protected, and families have the tools they need to address unexpected life events.
Difficulty in Discussing Death with Family Members
For many families, discussing death is a delicate topic, especially when it comes to aging parents. Younger couples may not even be thinking about the prospect of losing a spouse, but it is a very real possibility. Having a good estate planning attorney can help smooth these conversations and focus on practical solutions and outcomes.
To Avoid Expensive Attorneys
Some people believe that an estate plan is a very expensive process, but that all depends on your situation and the attorney that you select. Yes, it is a modest investment, but one that will serve your entire family if done correctly. Not having an estate plan can ultimately cost a family tens of thousands of dollars. A well prepared estate plan will protect the family legacy to give your family the support they need when life’s unexpected events occur.
Not Responding to Important Life Changes
It is understandable for a single, young professional with few assets to want to delay estate planning. But when life changes, such a marriage, children, or additional assets, that same individual may not realize that it is now important to have a plan in place. Whether due to marriage, home ownership, birth of a child or even inheritance from another family member, these events change the financial and personal situation dramatically.